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Why has the PuneTech website been changing so frequently?

Regular visitors to PuneTech.com would have noticed that the website has been undergoing major upheavals in recent times. This article gives you an idea of what is going on behind the scenes. This article is not directly related to tech in Pune, so busier readers should feel free to skip this article.

But before I get into the details of what’s going on, I should point out: If you have noticed that the website has been changing frequently, you are doing it wrong. You should not be visiting the PuneTech.com website. You should instead subscribe to PuneTech via RSS or by email. Why? Because that ensures that you’ll never miss a post, and for us, the benefit is that we get a “loyal reader” rather than just another “monthly unique visitor.” We value the loyal readers more.

So, what’s going on with the website?

Basically, for the last few months, the PuneTech website has been consuming too much CPU, more than the acceptable use allowed by the shared host. It’s in danger of being kicked out, and the problem needs to be identified and fixed. That’s why you’re seeing all the changes on the site.

Technical details: Many people were surprised to see the “default” wordpress theme on the PuneTech website, and some also wondered whether we had migrated PuneTech to wordpress. Actually, since the first day (almost 3 years ago), PuneTech.com has always been on wordpress. Over time, we’ve had a bunch of wordpress themes (which allow us to change the look-n-feel of the site while keeping the underlying software the same), which made the site look like a magazine or something else. One of the themes was a freely downloaded theme from the internet, while the others were all hand-crafted by me.

Anyway, to see if we could fix the performance problems, we tried the following:

  • Use various DEBUG plugins on wordpress to see if any specific query/queries were taking up too much time. Doesn’t appear to be so.
  • Disable all plugins to see if any plugin was causing the problem. That’s the first time you might have seen some functionality disappear from the website. Nope – the problem still remained.
  • Turn off the “tag cloud”. That did not help either.
  • Replace the latest theme with an older theme to see if the theme had some code that was causing the problem. Again, that did not help.
  • Delete the entire installation and do a fresh install – this was to ensure that there was no malware that got into the site somehow. Apparently not.
  • Replace the older theme with the wordpress default theme – this pretty much guarantees that we haven’t done anything to screw the site up. This is the reason why you’re currently seeing the wordpress default theme.

Our host Rochen has been very supportive throughout the process, and they’re pretty solid (I host a lot of other sites with them, some with higher traffic), so I’m pretty sure the problem isn’t at their end.

Why bother with all this? Shouldn’t I simply opt for a higher plan with more CPU and forget about the whole thing? The geek in me doesn’t allow me to do that. For one, I can’t believe that a small site like PuneTech can/should cause this much CPU usage. Second, I can’t give up without finding the root cause of the problem.

Hence, I’m still experimenting. So, apologies as some of the things will randomly stop working. The site might keep changing. But, the flow of article RSS feed and the daily email will continue. Thanks for listening…

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Comments

2 responses to Why has the PuneTech website been changing so frequently?

  1. Parth Lawate says:

    Hey Navin,

    One of our own sites had the very same issue on Rochen.. It was Joomla.. But here are a few suggestions on things you could try ..

    1. Make sure using cache wherever possible
    2. Turn of GZip if its on.. As though gzip will reduce load times,it can increase CPU consumption
    3. Try turning of a few of the blocks you use on the site, if there are any that might be giving a heavy query load.
    4. Also check your traffic analytics with reference to CPU load stats provided by Rochen..

    • navin says:

      @Parth, Thanks for the suggestions:

      1. Yes, I’m using wp-cache to do aggressive caching.
      2. GZip is off.
      3. Yes, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last few weeks. As you can see, the site now has no blocks!
      4. That’s what is puzzling me – there are no spikes in traffic, or in general anything else I can see that seems to be causing this :-(

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